Expat Dilemma

I recently ran into another expat from my hometown. We were both visiting “home” and were with our kids at the local library. Our moms were best friends in high school but we had never met but we knew of each other through our moms. We were surprised to run into each other, to be “home” at the same time and to also be considering a move back to the US. We didn’t have much time to chat but decided to meet up for a coffee later and talk about our “concerns” about moving “home”.

A few weeks later we finally met for a kid-free coffee and talked for hours about our concerns about moving home. They were not surprisingly the same. We both have kids around the same age and are concerned about gun violence, especially school shootings. Southern Italy isn’t a place I love and most days, even like. It’s a world away from the US. But my children’s safety in school or anywhere is the most important thing for me and the gun violence is the first thing I think of when I think of moving back to the US. It is the part of living in the US that worries me the most.

Another issue we both felt concerned about is the healthcare situation in the US. The US has the most important hospitals in the world, probably the best healthcare research and development in the world but on the other hand, also has the most expensive and complicated health care system in the world. There’s no guarantee we would find jobs providing good health insurance. We both live in countries with universal healthcare, cheap prescription medication and never having to worry about “good insurance” or what medications the insurance will pay for. There’s also no guarantee on where women’s reproductive health is headed in the future. We worry about the future of women’s health coverage. The overturn of Roe V. Wade seemed to come out of nowhere and overnight abortions became illegal in certain states, even if if the mother’s life was at risk. A hospital in Missouri even refused to give morning after pills. What is next, contraceptives becoming illegal? Will our daughters not have the right to decide for their own bodies in the future? The US seems to be heading into a dark time politically, limiting the rights of women especially.

The problems of living in Italy often feel “smaller” than the “huge” problems of the US. Despite the issues of the US, we both still want to move back. We miss our families, we miss the American “way”. We want our kids to experience how our high schools incorporate sports and clubs into the school and into the community creating a sense of local pride that neither of us see in our expat countries (she is in Australia). We miss the “you can do anything” attitude you only seem to find in the US. So who wins? How do we decide? We both decided we needed to go back to “expat” countries and weigh our options and that this is a decision that shouldn’t be made quickly.

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